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Neurorehabilitation Experts Highlight Breakthroughs in Neurogenic Pain Management

New issue of NeuroRehabilitation focuses on the challenges of and latest developments in classifying, assessing, and treating neurogenic pain disorders

Amsterdam, NL – There have been significant advances in knowledge regarding the pathology, etiology, assessment, and treatment of several significant neurogenic pain disorders regularly encountered by neurorehabilitation professionals in both inpatient and outpatient care. In a collection of articles published in NeuroRehabilitation, experts describe the latest advancements in neurogenic classification and pain management and treatment of these disorders.

Neurogenic pain results from injury to or disease of the central and/or peripheral nervous system. Types of neurogenic pain include neuropathic pain (due to nerve damage or disease), central pain (arising from a lesion in the central nervous system – such as thalamic pain following stroke), and deafferentation pain (the interruption or destruction of the afferent connections of nerve cells), among other mechanisms.

“There are multiple emerging trends in neurogenic pain management with particular reference to complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), neuropathic pain, and cranial neuralgias,” explains Guest Editor and co-Editor-in-Chief Nathan Zasler, MD, Concussion Care Centre of Virginia Ltd. and Tree of Life Services, Inc. Dr. Zasler is also a clinical professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, USA. “The topic of post-traumatic cephalalgia (headache) remains highly debated as does the area of functional/psychogenic pain disorders, both of which are elaborated on in this thematic issue of NeuroRehabilitation along with other more common, controversial, and/or challenging neurogenic pain disorders.”

Articles in this issue provide in-depth reviews of:

  • Diagnosis and treatment of CRPS (Allison Kessler, Min Yoo, Randy Calisoff)
  • Classification, pathology, etiology, and treatment of neuropathic pain (Douglas Murphy, Denise Lester, F. Clay Smither, Ellie Balakhanlou)
  • Central pain syndromes (Deena Hassaballa, Richard L. Harvey)
  • Treatment options for craniofacial neuralgias (Sheryl D. Katta-Charles)
  • Residual limb pain or “phantom” pain/sensation after amputation (Gary Stover, Nathan Prahlow)
  • Post-traumatic cephalalgias or headache (Brigid Dwyer and Nathan Zasler)
  • Functional pain disorders (Stoyan Popkirov, Elena K. Enax-Krumova,Tina Mainka, Matthias Hoheisel, Constanze Hausteiner-Wiehle)

Highlighted contributions in this issue include:

Douglas Murphy, MD, Regional Amputation Center, Central Virginia Veterans Health Center; and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, Richmond, VA, USA, and colleagues review the epidemiology, classifications, pathology, non-invasive and invasive treatments of peripheral neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain occurs in up to 10% of the general population and in patients with neck and back pain and diabetes. Chemotherapy can also be associated with the development of painful neuropathies in 19–85% of cases. Characteristic symptoms are burning, tingling, lightning bolts of pain, sharp sensations, unpleasant cold sensations, and electric-like sensations. Secondary symptoms and problems can include anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and impairment of quality of life.

“Peripheral neuropathic pain has a cost to the patient and society in terms of emotional consequences, quality of life, lost wages, and the cost of assistance from the medical system, and thus deserves serious consideration for prevention, treatment, and control,” notes Dr. Murphy. “There is a wide range of pharmacologic options to control this type of pain, and when such measures fail, numerous interventional methods can be employed such as nerve blocks and implanted stimulators. It is an evolving therapeutic arena. Physicians providing these therapies need to use diligent patient selection processes and a multimodal, individualized pain program that supports a strong risk/benefit ratio.”

Brigid Dwyer, MD, Department of Neurology, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA, and Nathan Zasler, MD, review the highly-debated topic of post-traumatic cephalalgias (PTC) or post-traumatic headache. They note that PTC remains controversial on a number of levels and provide an overview and discussion of current classification and limitations, epidemiology, and risk factors for PTC, subtypes of PTC and associated pain generators, as well as pathophysiology.

They contend that the current classification using the International Headache Society’s International Classification of Headache Disorders has significant limitations that warrant reassessment. They also review the clinical course of PTC and prognostic risk factors for pain persistence. The authors discuss clinical management and limitations of the existing literature on PTC, noting that medication overuse may paradoxically exacerbate headache symptoms and prolong recovery times when superimposed upon pre-existing headache pathology.

According to Dr. Dwyer and Dr. Zasler, “A multifactorial diagnostic and treatment approach, cognizant of biopsychosocial factors as well as the unique interplay between central and musculoskeletal pain, sleep, mood, cognition and exertional limitations, continues to be most successful.”

“The most significant challenges are dissemination of new knowledge, in particular practice guidelines, to clinicians in the trenches treating neurogenic pain disorders,” concludes Dr. Zasler. “As guest editor of this issue, I am very grateful to all the contributors and their high quality of work, which will hopefully be appreciated by readers and advance knowledge in this area of neurorehabilitation.”



Thematic issue: Neurogenic Pain Disorders
NeuroRehabilitation, Volume 47, Issue 3 (November 2020)
Guest Editor: Nathan Zasler, MD
Full contents:

This thematic issue on stress and pain contains a total of seven peer-reviewed articles.

Featured Articles
Peripheral Neuropathic Pain” by Douglas Murphy, Denise Lester, F. Clay Smither, and Ellie Balakhanlou, openly available at:

Post-Traumatic Cephalalgia” by Brigid Dwyer and Nathan Zasler, openly available at:

Full text of the articles is available to journalists upon request. Contact Diana Murray, IOS Press (+1 718-640-5678 or for additional information. Journalists who wish to interview the Guest Editor or authors should contact Dr. Nathan Zasler (

About NeuroRehabilitation
NeuroRehabilitation: An Interdisciplinary Journal is an international journal that emphasizes publication of scientifically based, practical information relevant to all aspects of neurologic rehabilitation. Founded in 1991, NeuroRehabilitation features peer-reviewed articles that are interdisciplinary in nature and cover the full life span and range of neurological disabilities including stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, neuromuscular disease, and other neurological disorders. Information is intended for an interdisciplinary audience. Issues of the journal are thematically organized. Themes have focused on specific clinical disorders, types of therapy, and age groups.

About IOS Press
IOS Press is headquartered in Amsterdam with satellite offices in the USA, Germany, India and China and serves the information needs of scientific and medical communities worldwide. IOS Press now publishes more than 90 international peer-reviewed journals and about 65 book titles each year on subjects ranging from computer science, artificial intelligence, and engineering to medicine, neuroscience, and cancer research.